Donald Trump’s strength is disruption, but is Syria troop pullout a step too far?
- The US president’s rash choice to exit Syria may earn the praise of Erdogan and Putin, but clearly failed to impress his own defence secretary
Donald Trump is sui generis and his in-your-face approach to questioning certain foundational beliefs of the post-second world war Western world makes up in honesty what it lacks in subtlety. He has the guts, as did former French president Charles de Gaulle, to question whether the Western democracies are really just one big club where the “all for one and one for all” ethic of The Three Musketeers should prevail.
However, Trump’s delight in the counter-intuitive and disrupting the comfortable and the seemingly savvy, his stock-in-trade since before his first bankruptcy, is more than problematic. While success in commerce has bred success in politics, the rough-and-tumble of electioneering is far different from the subtleties of governance.
And what could be less discerning diplomatically and thus more disruptive than a strategy discussion about troop withdrawals from Syria with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an autocrat with extreme antipathy for Kurds and Israelis, both staples of regional American strategy and both highly suspicious of Mr Erdogan?
The idea that Mr Erdogan’s opinion should be one of many with respect to Syria is appropriate, but the absence of input from our defence secretary on this issue is alarming, as is disdain for allied Kurdish forces actually fighting and dying for our side and now a target for Turkish retribution (“Erdogan has invited Trump to visit Turkey in 2019”, December 25).
Was Israel informed and given time for an opinion? What about our commanders in uniform? Plaudits from Russian President Vladimir Putin and smiles in Tehran are hardly a counter.
Paul Bloustein, Ohio